Gunmen Attack Minibus In Northwest Pakistan, Kill 8 In Threat To Peace Deal

by
jonathan
Gunmen attacked a minibus carrying mostly Shiite Muslims and killed eight people on Friday in a stretch of northwestern Pakistan that has seen a recent peace deal between rival Sunni and Shiite tribes, a government official said.

Pakistani villagers collect belongings from the debris of their houses damaged by a suicide bombing in Doaba town near Hangu, Pakistan on Thursday, March, 24, 2011. A suicide bomber rammed a car loaded with explosives into a police station, killing many people and wounding more than two dozen people, police said.

Gunmen attacked a minibus carrying mostly Shiite Muslims and killed eight people on Friday in a stretch of northwestern Pakistan that has seen a recent peace deal between rival Sunni and Shiite tribes, a government official said.

The gunmen who carried out the ambush in the Bagan area of the Kurram tribal region also kidnapped 18 people from the bus, said Javid Khan, a local administrator. The attack was the latest blow to the peace deal, which was meant to end a four-year conflict that cost hundreds of lives, but has failed to extinguish violence in the area.

The bus was attacked as it was travelling on the main road that runs through Kurram that connects the main town in the region, Parachinar, with Peshawar, the capital of nearby Khyber Pakhtunwkha province, said Khan.

Violence had kept the road closed until the peace deal was struck in February.

Five people were wounded in the attack, said Khan. The bus was mostly carrying people from the Toori tribe, one of the main Shiite tribes that struck the peace deal, he said.

A similar attack killed nine people in mid-March who were travelling on the road from Parachinar, a Shiite-dominated town.

It is unclear how the Shiite tribes will respond following Friday's incident and whether the peace deal will be scrapped.

Tribesmen in Kurram have reported that the Haqqani network — a fiercely independent branch of the Afghan Taliban and a major enemy of U.S. and NATO forces — had helped cut the deal with the Shiites so it could use Kurram as a staging ground for fighting in Afghanistan.

The Taliban, who adhere to a hard-line interpretation of Sunni Islam, have at times exploited sectarian and tribal feuds to spread their influence along the Pakistan-Afghan border.

AP